09 July, 2020
11 July, 2019
Recently, RP-SG Group which runs Spencers Retail acquired Godrej’s Nature’s Basket which is a similar concept as FoodHall but the latter beats the former hands down with it’s range, assortment, pricing and customer experience. There are similar concepts in all major cities but the trend is yet to catch up outside Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore. Is the market ready for gourmet grocery? Yes. Are the Retailers / Mall Owners & Shopping Centres ready? Perhaps, No. It’s not just the shop or the real estate that would elevate the experience, rather the Retailer’s vision and readiness to cater to this elite segment of customers. Actor Madhavan is the Brand Ambassador for Elite Matrimony (in this age and time when marriage is not an institution but more of convenience and social status).
So the premium Customer not only exits but also waiting. Let’s see who expands first and fast.
03 January, 2017
24 December, 2013
Santa Claus is a symbol of positivity and cheer, is well known. But he has been used as a constant Brand Ambassador by Retailers all over the world for quite many years now. Retail Stores use various displays of Santa at their precincts – some use static images and some use real men (or women) as real life Santas who give away candy bars and chocolates, goodies and gifts to children and elders who pass by the store. Santa is a global symbol of mass Retail Advertising, I would say. From Brown Goods to Apparel, all Retail formats use Santa in their copy some way or the other to connect with their audience and to bring the relevance of shopping during this season.
Afterall, Christmas is not just a religious festival, not atleast in India, one of the most secular countries in the world which embraces all forms of worship in its country. While it may be rare to have a Masjid, a Temple and a Church to share walls, its not uncommon for people across religions to celebrate each others festivals. Diwali and Id are two other festivals which are celebrated with much fervor all over the country. Christmas is no more restricted to Christians in India, but to the community at large. Many Hindu and Muslim homes decorate their premises with small and large Christmas Trees and Stars in their balconies and order Cakes to consume with their family and friends.
This Christmas Season, leading Retailers have used Santa in their campaigns. Pantaloon Retail, formerly owned by The Future Group and now by Aditya Birla Group has a “Buy 2 Get 1” Offer on its entire range of products. Shoppers Stop, India’s largest Department Store chain with over 61 outlets across the country has a 20% cash back offer in the form of Discount Vouchers. While the offer is only for a limited period, it would promote future walkins and shopping due the Discount Vouchers being provided with every shopping worth Rs. 5,000 or more.
Its also a great time to shop for Consumer Durables. Chennai’s leading Retailer Shahs and Viveks are offering massive discounts on LED Tvs, Washing Machines, Refridgerators, Cameras, et al.
Leading Brands like Apple and Samsung, surprisingly do not have any special schemes this Christmas – Diwali is probably a bigger festival for shopping personal gadgets. Now is the best time to fill your homes and wardrobes. So rush to your nearest Retail Store and shop more, save more! Have a Santastic Shopping Season. Merry Christmas.
18 September, 2012
Popular Media is in full force discussing the pros and cons of opening up FDI in multi-brand Retail, announced by the Manmohan Singh led Union Government of India on 14 Sep. 2012. Finally, it happened. Rather, it had to. On 9 Jan 2012, the same Government allowed 100% FDI in Single Brand Retail, acting as a precursor and paving the way for the current policy decision. The UPA Alliance which leads a multi-party coalition Government has finally had the spine to push this through, alienating some of its own partners putting its Government in jeopardy. With the current policy in place, it means that multi-national Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Tesco and their likes can invest in India on their own as well as in Joint Ventures with Indian partners or Business Houses. But, there is a catch. FDI in Retail has been made a State Subject which means that each State has to provide an approval for each partnership that is proposed and to be allowed to be operated within its precincts. This is a bit absurd, to say the least. The policy states that over 30% of input must be locally sourced, which in my opinion is a very good thing for Indian traders and businessmen.
(Suggested Reading: Starbucks in India)
So, lets see what’s in store for consumers with multi-brand FDI in Retail;
By allowing FDI in Multi-brand Retail, the end consumer is expected to get better pricing for most products. In case of Agri-products, even the Farmers are expected to command a better pricing since they would be dealing directly with the Retailers. Since these Retailers purchase large quantities of products from FMCG companies directly, they would be able to get better margins and would thereby pass them on to Consumers. This is largely in case of Grocery Retailing. It would be similar in Electronics Retail too. Fashion Retailers who run a chain of stores would be able to procure their merchandise at better rates from manufacturers and would again pass on the benefits to their customers. This is one important area where everyone gains!
At the moment, products manufactured / produced in one part of the country are not available in many other places. This is mainly because of Supply Chain Constraints. Multinational Retailers don’t just bring big bucks, but also the knowledge and know-how of how to do things better. This, would be an important part of the proposed Retail expansion of Organized Retail, with traders getting more scope for their products. Customers will get a wider variety and range than before which will throw open new options and opportunities for consumption.
Retail trade as a whole employs about 8% of the population in the country, directly and indirectly. These people are paid a fixed amount as compensation and do not benefit with other Government schemes such as Pension Fund, Provident fund, Employee State Insurance, Gratuity, etc. Modern Retail already provides most of these benefits to its staff. With more and more Organized Retail Stores opening up, it is expected to generate higher employment across the country.
(Suggested Reading: Retail Staffing)
One of the popular qualms is that the neighborhood Kirana provides free credit which the Organized players may not be able to and would hence lose out on. This is incorrect. Spending through credit/debit cards has grown over 6 times in the past decade within Modern Retail. Customers are happy to swipe their cards even for smaller transactions, more for ease than anything. Retailers like Shoppers Stop and Big Bazaar have co-branded cards, thus exciting customers with higher reward points for purchases.
Modern Retail is not just about shopping in a comfortable environment but also includes a lot of fun and entertainment for families. These large stores have F&B facilities, gaming zones, etc. where children can unwind while parents are shopping. It is also an excuse for families to go window-shopping and end up buying something or the other!
And here is why a few segments of the people are against it;
Kiranas would shut-shop
The oft-heard uproar is that Kiranas would shut-shop due to the emergence of big-box multi-national Retailers. This is untrue. Kiranas have their basics right, starting with Location, Pricing, Assortment, Credit to Customers, to name a few. Large Retailers take time to crack even some of these points. Having present in India for over a decade, Domestic Retailers such as Foodworld, Spencers, Reliance Fresh, More, etc. haven’t got their act correct, I would say. If they have a good location, then their pricing is (obviously) not so competitive and even if they attempt to, then they are in the Red. Merchandising is one of the most difficult paradigms of the Retail business coupled with severe Supply Chain constraints in the Indian scenario. Given these, it would be almost impossible for large Retailers to succeed, whether they are of Indian origin or International.
(Suggested Reading: Store Opening )
Secondly, most of the Kirana stores (Mom-and-Pop-Stores) are first generation entrepreneurs in their 40s and 50s who started off their own little corner stores during the 80s and 90s after Liberalization. Some of them include women, who run petty shops in neighborhoods to support their family, sometimes as a main source of income and at times as alternate, additional income. Their children, most of whom are undergoing good education are moving out of the family businesses. Many youngsters aspire to become Diploma holders, Engineers, MBAs, etc. across a wide range of subjects and are hence not looking forward to continue the family’s traditional Kirana business. As it is, many shop owners are not looking at continuing their petty businesses for the coming generations. So I wonder why this hue and cry.
Many Kiranas have already embraced modern Retail. For example, Metro AG which set shop ten years ago in Bangalore now has half a dozen stores spread across the country. Most of its customers are traders and merchants who buy from Metro and sell to end-users (customers). Wal-Mart set up a JV with the Bharti Group a few years back and runs Cash & Carry Stores in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Its main focus is on Kiranas and Retailers to whom they sell stuff in tonnes! Even in big cities like Mumbai and Chennai, it is quite common to see Retailers shop at the likes of Reliance Mart and Big Bazaar, given the substantial savings.
Kiranas are a tough lot and represent the well-entrenched Indian Entrepreneurship and cannot be unseated so easily. Long Live Kiranas!
(Suggested Reading: David Vs. Goliath)
21 July, 2012
It has been a regular discussion point in Retail circles about the imminent Indian entry of IKEA, the Swedish Retailer which is also the largest Furniture Retailer in the world with sales over USD 30 Billion. A few years ago, IKEA announced its plans to enter India but later withheld due to the unfriendly FDI policy and other regulations. Most recently, in July 2012, IKEA submitted an application to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (of India) to allow its Indian subsidiary to operate its business in the country. Although FIPB and FDI norms allow multi-national Retailers only to operate a B-to-B business in India (Wholesale businesses like the ones followed by Bharti Wal-Mart, Carrefour & Metro AG), the much awaited Single-Brand Retail FDI which allows foreign companies to transact directly with end-users and consumers is expected to be announced soon. And IKEA sees merit in it. After all, the Indian market by size is one that cannot be ignored, about INR 100,000 Crores of which the Organized market is a less than 10%. Home grown Retailers such as The Future Group (which operates the Pantaloon Department Store Chain, Big Bazaar Hypermarkets and Central Malls among others), K Raheja Corporation (which also runs the Department store chain Shoppers Stop) and Landmark Group (of Dubai which operates Lifestyle Department Stores and MAX Hypermarkets) dominate the space with their respective ventures Home Town, Home Stop and Home Centre. The price points at which these furniture retailers sell is rather high – and rightfully so since that is exactly what the unorganized market doesn’t offer. Also, the life expectancy of such furniture is manifold compared to the “one time use and throw” offering from the not-so-Organized Retailers. And hence they have been thriving selling premium products.
IKEA is hopefully expected to be a game-changer. Its strength lies in design – easy to use furniture for day-today utility. For any furniture, its form factor and utility are the two most important aspects followed by its cost. “Product developers and designers work directly with suppliers to ensure that creating the low prices starts on the factory floor,” says IKEA Group spokesperson Josefin Thorell. Just one sentence in the IKEA website sums it all up: “We design the price tag first and then develop the product to suit that price”. The furniture powerhouse with 330 stores worldwide obviously doesn’t like to mince words: it’s an out and out price warrior in all the 41 countries (India will be the 42nd) it operates in. At the heart of the strategy is the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) furniture which means buyers have to assemble different pieces of the product themselves. The ‘flat packs’ design helps the retailer to sell them at lower prices. A customer has to take the delivery of the product and assemble it himself.
Furniture is used everyday in some form or the other and hence it is most valued for their usage. In the Indian context, furniture, like jewelry is always expected to be passed on down the generations. At my own home, I have a forty year old chair that my grandfather used. And original Burmese Teak wood almirah doors which once adorned the cupboards of his palatial house. And there are millions of them out there like me who maintain their hereditary furniture in India. It is indeed almost a custom. But things are changing, rather evolving. With more and more people moving out of their home towns to larger cities in search of education and employment, the need for simple, usable furniture is on the rise. Also, with transferrable jobs across the country, given the overall market boom, urban dwellers don’t prefer to invest heavily on movable furniture. They would rather buy those which can be easily discarded, usually to their drivers, maids, helpers, etc. And this is where probably IKEA becomes an exciting idea!
The DIY concept is another unique thing about IKEA which would do well with the youngsters – the Indian population has over 65% of them under the age of 35. IKEA sells pre-packed boxes of furniture and not assembled ones, thereby saving precious retail space at their outlets. While the turnover in this business is huge, margins are wafer thin. And real estate costs don’t help either. The DIY kits would hopefully do well among the majority of users who are youngsters. They like adventure and setting up a Dining Table or a Wardrobe would be pretty exciting. Also, to manufacture in the form of flat panels is mammoth effort, which is where IKEA would initially focus their efforts on, which is also their inherent strength.
Apart from bringing down prices substantially, IKEA is expected to bring in great designs with it while entering India. Fancy book shelves, cupboards and many other art forms would be a sure hit among consumers. With their maverick pricing strategy, they would also be taking on the local businesses head-on. However, there seems to be room for atleast half a dozen large players, so the market would respond well to them.
Looking forward to assembling my first IKEA furniture soon!
10 April, 2011
If there is any regret I would nurse all my professional life, it would be not meeting Mr. Raghu Pillai, whose sudden demise this morning (April 10, 2011) has left me baffled with life’s uncertainties. Last month, I was at the Corporate Office of Home Town, which is also the Head office of Future Value Retail, where he had moved in a few months ago as CEO after being at the helm and putting up Reliance Retail to shape. I saw him walk past the cabin in which I was in a meeting; when I walked out, couldn’t spot him and left in a hurry for the next meeting. Little did I imagine that I would never see him again! It is ironical that I write this column on board a flight from Chennai to Kolkata where I started my career a decade ago at Musicworld Entertainment, part of RPG Retail for which we was the founding CEO since 1995. He suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at his Chennai home this morning and is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
02 October, 2010
Nominees: Bata, Titan, Levi's, Van Heusen, Tanishq, Louis Philippe, Benetton, Reebok
2. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Food & Grocery – Food Bazaar
Nominees: More, Easyday, Food Bazaar, Reliance Fresh, Spencer's
3. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Foodservice – KFC
Nominees: Café Coffee Day, Mainland China, Haldiram's, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC
4. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Consumer Electronics - Croma
Nominees: Croma, Next, Reliance Digital, eZone, Reliance iStore
5. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Leisure - Crossword
Nominees: Crossword, Reliance Timeout, Odyssey, Landmark, Planet M
6. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Multiplex - PVR
Nominees: Big Cinemas, INOX, PVR, Fun Multiplex, Cinemax, Fame Cinemas
7. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Mobile & Telecom - The Mobile Store
Nominees: Uninor, Spice Hotspot, Reliance Webstore, The Mobile Store
8. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Beauty & Wellness - The Body Shop
Nominees: VLCC, Kaya Skin Clinic, The Body Shop, NewU, M.A.C
9. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Pharmacy & Healthcare - Guardian
Nominees: Apollo Pharmacy, Guardian, Religare Wellness, 98.4
10. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Home & Interiors - Home Centre
Nominees: Home Centre , TTK Prestige, Rosebys, Home Town, @home, Home Stop
11. Most Admired Regional Retailer of the Year – Kapsons, RMKV
Nominees: Kapsons, Ritu Wears, Jade Blue, Sohum Shoppe, Total, Le Marche, RMKV, MK Retail
Nominees: Sports XS, Titan GoldPlus, Golfworx, Head Quarters, Cinepolis, Editions 13. Most Admired Innovative Concept of the Year - Cinediner - Big Cinemas
Nominees: Moms Lounge, Spencer's Patisserie, Cinediner - Big Cinemas, Colours, The Collective, William Penn, Presto Wonders
Nominees: Lifestyle, Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop, Reliance Trends, Westside, Central
15. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Hypermarket - Big Bazaar
Nominees: Spencer's Hyper, Hypercity, MORE Megastore, SPAR Hypermarket, Big Bazaar, Reliance Mart, Star Bazaar
16. Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Customer Relations - Shoppers Stop
Nominees: Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Van Heusen, SPAR, Apollo, Guardian, Pantaloons
17. Most Admired Retail Face of the Year - Thomas Varghese
Nominees: Raj Jain, Kabir Lumba, Bijou Kurien, Thomas Varghese, Govind Shrikhande, Rakesh Biyani, Vineet Kapila
18. Most Admired Retail Group of the Year - Future Group
Nominees: Future Group, Landmark Group, Reliance Retail , K Raheja Corp, RPG Group, Tata Group, Aditya Birla Group
11 July, 2010
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